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Burns

Robert Burns

Kirkoswald and Tam O' Shanter's Grave

Period:
19th Century
Description:

A steel plate engraving from a painting by D O Hill RSA, of the village where Robert Burns completed his education.

 

William Burnes, the poet's father, rented the farm of Mount Oliphant in 1766 and it was here that Robert Burns spent much of his childhood. At the age of 16 he attended Hugh Rodger's school in Kirkoswald to learn mathematics and land surveying. This is a village on the Ayrshire coast at some distance from the family farm. It was probably the furthest he had been from home in his life.

 

Kirkoswald was the home of Douglas Graham, a local worthy on whom Burns based his character, Tam O' Shanter. Burns wrote the poem, "Tam O'Shanter" as a "witch story" to accompany the illustration of Alloway Kirk which was to be published by his friend, Captain Francis Grose in his "Antiquities of Scotland". It is both comic and epic, telling the story of Tam's encounter with a coven of witches on his ride home from a night's drinking at the inn.

 

This view of Kirkoswald was published in "The Land of Burns - A series of Landscapes and Portraits, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of the Scottish Poet". This was published in 1846 by Blackie and Son of Glasgow. At this time the development of steel plate engraving made it possible for images to be reproduced in much greater numbers than previous printing technology had allowed. Books such as this one, illustrated by engravings of works by eminent artists became popular, although they were still expensive and beyond the pocket of most people.

Materials/Media:
paper
Dimensions:
width: 142 mm, length: 90 mm
Source:
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
DUMFM:0199.72 [Land of Burns, Volume I]
Digital Number:
DMBN184n
Creation Date:
1846
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council